SAVANNAH, Ga. (Spartan Athletics) – For almost 24 minutes spanning the first and second halves, the Norfolk State men’s basketball team never led in a MEAC contest at Savannah State.
But the Spartans overcame a 10-point second half deficit, took the lead late on a 12-3 run, and defeated Savannah State 82-76 on Saturday evening at Tiger Arena.
The Spartans tied it up three times in the second half, but it was not until there was 3:24 left that they were finally able to go ahead for good. After a 3-ball by senior Derrik Jamerson Jr. made it 69-69, senior Jordan Butler’s baseline jumper with 3:24 left put NSU up for good.
Savannah State got to within one with a little more than two minutes left, but buckets by senior Alex Long and junior Nic Thomas pushed the lead past four for good.
The comeback allowed NSU to maintain first place in the MEAC at 5-0 while improving to .500 overall at 10-10. Thomas made 7-of-12 from the field and had 21 points, five rebounds and three assists. Sophomore Mastadi Pitt added 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting as well.
The victory came about after the Spartans made just 31 percent in the first half but 59 percent in the second. They outscored the Tigers by 15 in the second half (54-39) and overcame 27 turnovers, 19 in the first half alone. NSU also held a sizeable edge on the glass, 46-30.
Before taking the lead in the last few minutes of play, the Spartans last led with eight and a half minutes to go in the first half. That 16-13 advantage came after buckets by Jamerson and junior Steven Whitley. The early part of the game featured very little scoring.
Savannah State (4-14, 1-3 MEAC) started knocking down treys after NSU’s last lead, and a couple of fastbreak buckets at the rim put the Tigers ahead 29-22 with just a few minutes left in the half. They pushed the lead to as much as nine, and they went into the locker room up by that same margin, 37-28.
SSU finished with nine 3-pointers in the first half alone, and Collins Joseph had four of those and 14 points total. The Tigers made 14 for the game.
The Spartans scored the first seven points of the second half before Zach Sellers made back-to-back 3-pointers. Jaquan Dotson’s bucket gave the Tigers a 10-point edge, 51-41, but a wild sequence ensued with NSU holding the ball on offense that helped the Spartans start a 10-0 run.
The Tigers scored the next five points to maintain their lead, and the Spartans tied it up again with 7:10 left on a 3-pointer from Pitt. It took several more minutes until Jamerson’s second 3-pointer of the game, followed by Butler’s basket, ended SSU’s advantage for good.
Whitley added 11 points, seven rebounds and four assists, and senior Armani Branch also reached double figures with 10.
Butler (six points, 10 rebounds) and Long (nine points, 11 rebounds) each had big days on the glass.
Sellers finished with 20 points and six assists, hitting 5-of-11 from deep. Joseph made 5-of-9 from long range for a 19-point night, and Romani Hansen shot 7-of-11 from the field for 19 points with seven rebounds.
The Tigers ended the night 41 percent from the field on 26-of-64 shooting. A total of 40 of those shots came from beyond the arc.
The Spartans shot 28-of-60 (46.7 percent), 9-of-26 from 3-point range.
NSU closes out the road trip on Monday night at South Carolina State.